Due to the economic recession, there is, for the first time in nearly 15 years, a waiting list for the Florida Department of Health’s AIDS Drug Assistant Program, reports the Florida Times-Union.
The program is “a benefit program of last resort for those who have contracted the virus and can’t afford the pricey retro-viral medication.”
The increasing need comes from patients who have lost their jobs and are no longer able to afford insurance. The medication can cost upwards of $10,000 a year.
“Until April of this year, we have always been able to provide services uninterrupted to someone HIV positive and qualified,” Tom Liberti, chief of the Department of Health HIV/AIDS bureau, told the Times-Union. “When the recession began, we could see this perfect storm developing, where demand for services increased and federal and state resources did not.”
According to the Times-Union, more money has gone into testing and prevention, and the number of new infections is dropping. However, Florida still ranks in the top three states for HIV infection rates.